2018 Outlook: Towns added a 3-point shot to his repertoire in 2016-17 (he made 13 more than he attempted in 2015-16), but that didn't result in him settling for jumpers, as his average distance of FGA actually dropped. His venture out to the perimeter will likely continue, given the draft-day trade for Jimmy Butler (Zach LaVine shot 62 more 3-pointers than Butler last season despite playing 29 fewer games), but Towns seems focused on blending jump shots into his game, as opposed to relying on them. KAT is as reliable as any player in the league, considering that he has yet to miss a game in his NBA career and that he ranked behind only James Harden in double-doubles last season.
2018 Outlook: The Stifle Tower has ranked as a top-five shot-blocker in each of the past three seasons, but in 2016-17, he proved to be more than a one-trick pony. For the first time in his career, Gobert averaged a double-double, and given the promise he showed down the stretch (16.7 PPG and 13.1 RPG after the All-Star break), you should be able to count on that again this season. Gobert didn't change anything about his skill set … he simply got more aggressive. His free throw shooting took a step forward (65.3 FT%), and if he can simply sustain that rate, there is no reason to think he won't be a top-five center again in 2017-18.
2018 Outlook: You're lying if you said you saw that breakout season coming, but there is no denying the versatile skill set and Jokic's potential. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.7 PPG (more than Kristaps Porzingis), 11.6 RPG (more than Anthony Davis), and 6.1 APG (more than Damian Lillard). He consistently displayed a level of comfort with the ball in his hands that is hard to find for anyone, let alone a human that stands 6-foot-10. The Nuggets added a running mate in Paul Millsap, which theoretically will allow Jokic to float and control the offense. He represents the exact direction of the NBA, and considering that he finished the season outside of the top 50 in usage rate, there is plenty of room for growth.
2018 Outlook: After the trade to New Orleans, Cousins lost 3.4 points per game on his scoring average, but by averaging 1.8 more rebounds and making more 3-pointers, his fantasy value didn't change in a major way. Cousins clearly fancies himself a 3-point shooter, and given the surplus of pick-and-rolls that he was running with Anthony Davis, it stands to reason that Boogie could well replicate the 1.8 3s he made per game in 2016-17. That may not be optimal, given how dominant he can be on the interior, but as long as he is rebounding and giving you the defensive numbers (3.0 blocks-plus-steals over the last three seasons), there is little you can realistically complain about.
2018 Outlook: In 2016, Whiteside proved that his second-half production from 2015-16 was no fluke, as he essentially produced those exact numbers over the course of an entire season. He was the only player who averaged 13 rebounds a night and made more free throws than he missed, a skill set that has him locked in as an early-round selection in all formats. The blocked shots fell a bit last season as a result of increased importance on the offensive end (11.7 percent bump in usage), but the 2.1 blocked shots per game are still going to be significantly valuable, and the spike in points andpercentages helps more than the drop in blocks hurts.
2018 Outlook: Like so many others, Turner took his talents to the 3-point line in 2016-17, as he attempted 115 bombs in his sophomore season after chucking up just 14 3s in 2015-16. The conversion rate wasn't bad (34.8 3FG%), but that's not what you're buying into. Turner is making shots within 16 feet of the basket at a 52 percent clip, and as his value to the Pacers continues to increase, it is safe to expect his usage follows. Turner's rebounding rate (13 percent) left plenty to be desired for a second consecutive season, but given his shooting touch and defensive numbers (2.5 steals-plus-blocks for his career), the fantasy value is strong, even if he doesn't grow into a nightly double-double threat.
2018 Outlook: Like many others, Gasol was infected with the 3-point bug in 2016-17, as he set a career-high in 3-point attempts … by the end of his fourth game! Usually a big man distancing himself from the rim is a bad fantasy omen due to a decrease in efficiency and rebound opportunity, but given that Gasol was never an elite rebounder and displayed reasonable touch from distance (38.8 percent), there is hope to be had. No, his 11 double-doubles are not exactly what you're looking for from someone who stands 7-foot-1, but if you build your roster accordingly, Gasol's well-rounded skill set (basically four assists and one steal per game over the past five seasons) has significant value at the center position.
2018 Outlook: Fantasy's Rookie of the Year was nothing short of phenomenal in his 31 starts last season, and none of the underlying statistics indicates that the production was fluky. Heck, if we could pencil him in for more than 70 games, he'd be in the first-round conversation. He proved more than capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor, and his defensive stats are nothing short of elite. The games/minutes ceiling might not be as high as for other early-round picks, but as this Philadelphia roster improves, Embiid's star is going to grow. Invest with confidence here, as we are betting against this being the least efficient offense again this season.
2018 Outlook: After being sent to Portland in the middle of February, Nurkic exploded by averaging 15.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 29.2 minutes of action. The Blazers won 13 of 16 March games with Nurkic, and if it wasn't for a non-displaced right leg fibular fracture, the hype around him entering this fantasy season would likely be even higher. Take advantage and invest! Yes, the Blazers drafted Caleb Swanigan, but the primary big man role entering this season is Nurkic's without question, and given the perimeter orientation of this offense, there should be plenty of room to operate. The end of last season was the beginning of things to come more so than a flash in the pan.
2018 Outlook: There were 75 players who averaged more rebounds than Lopez in 2016. Seventy-five. That means that the average NBA team had 2.5 players average more rebounds than this 7-footer. Yikes! In fairness, 97.8 percent of his career 3-pointers came last season, so at least his time on the perimeter was spent producing for fantasy owners. If you like Lopez, you will need to build your roster accordingly (maybe you land Hassan Whiteside in the early going), but it can be done. The move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles shouldn't impact his fantasy stock in a big way, as we are still looking at an up-tempo team that focuses little on defense. The rare combination of 3PPG and blocked shots is unique and allows Lopez to hold significant value in all formats, but don't confuse "unique" with "elite."
2018 Outlook: In 2016-17, Love provided very nice production, as he double-doubled in 68.3 percent of his games (up from 48 percent in his first two seasons in Cleveland). A usage spike (up 9.8 percent from 2015-16) led to an increase in his statistics and there is reason to believe that more growth is likely in 2017-18. Not only did Love struggle through some nagging injuries, but he converted shots inside of 8 feet at 49.8 percent, a career-low rate (minimum 20 games). Just a slight correction to his career norm (53.7 percent) would make him a threat to score 20 points nightly. When you consider that Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook were the only 20-point, 10-rebound players in basketball last season, Love comes with a nice statistical ceiling due to his comfort in Cleveland.
2018 Outlook: Horford averaged 14 PPG in his first season in Boston after having averaged 15.6 PPG over the previous seven seasons, but he more than made up for it by averaging a career-best five dimes per game. His passing ability should continue to shine because of the Celtics adding significant scoring this offseason, and that makes him a very interesting fantasy option, as long as you can load up on rebounding from the rest of your frontcourt. Horford will not offer you big scoring totals, but you can find points throughout the draft -- and good luck finding a well-rounded big man like Horford much past the fifth round.
2018 Outlook: The center position is not very deep, so the value placed on a player like Dieng is likely to vault him up cheat sheets. The fact that he has averaged at least 2.2 blocks-plus-steals in each of the last three seasons raises his production floor, but given that the Wolves have a "big three" of their own, Dieng's offensive stats can grow only so much. Look for a third straight season with very similar production, understanding that the range of potential outcomes is minimal.
2018 Outlook: It was a weird season for Vucevic, as he attempted 75 3s (he had shot 26 for his career entering 2016-17); but his "big man" numbers didn't suffer, as he grabbed 10.4 RPG and, for the first time in his career, averaged both a block and steal per game. On the plus side, his numbers did improve after the Serge Ibaka trade, something that figures to be sustained in 2017-18. On the downside, the Magic cut his minutes in a significant fashion for the second consecutive season, and that would cap his upside if it continues.
2018 Outlook: How Lob City will look on the offensive end without Chris Paul controlling things is anybody's guess, but we aren't projecting much of a change in fantasy value for Jordan. Yes, Paul is among the best passers we've seen, but the current Clipper guards are capable of throwing lob passes in the same zip code as the rim, and that's good enough for the man who has led the world in dunks in each of the last four seasons. The frontcourt creativity of Blake Griffin will open things up for Jordan, and he should be able to continue his run of remarkably consistent production in 2017.